Your address will show here +01 (414) 230 - 5550

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has raised concerns about the complexity of proposals to track the progress of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain.  

New draft regulations from the EU Commission would require UK retailers and wholesalers to register and pay to receive unique ‘identifier codes’ in order to sell tobacco products.

Despite the directive referencing that only the ‘last economic operator before the retailer’ would be affected, the regulations require retailers to register to buy tobacco products and to track each purchase of tobacco from a wholesaler.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “It is important that we tackle the illicit tobacco market throughout the supply chain but these regulations would place a significant cost and time burden on retailers, requiring them to register and pay for identifier codes for both their overall business and each individual store, and produce them each time they purchase tobacco.  We will be working with the UK Government and EU commission to amend the regulations.”

The EU Commission consultation runs until 2 October for all stakeholders to provide feedback and ACS will be responding to the consultation.  EU member states, including the UK Government, will have opportunities to amend and block the regulations.


ACS has welcomed Local Government Minister Marcus Jones’ intervention to speed up the process of rebilling businesses that are waiting for rate relief.

In a Commons statement, he said: “The Government has been consistently clear that it expects local authorities to make rapid progress in helping business by implementing these relief schemes. 

“Overall, however, despite various examples of good practice, the pace of providing relief to ratepayers has not been acceptable. I have written today to those authorities that have not fully implemented all three schemes asking them to rebill businesses that are set to benefit from relief as soon as possible.” 

Mr Jones added that he will be publishing a list of authorities that have rebilled businesses who have been affected by each of the three relief schemes next month.

The schemes include a £300m fund for local authorities to give to hard-pressed businesses facing higher bills and funds that limit annual increases to £600 for those losing either small business or rural rate relief.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Business rates are one of the biggest fixed costs for thousands of local shops and other small businesses, with one in three convenience stores forced to deal with an increase in their rates bills as a result of the revaluation. We welcome the Minister’s intervention on this issue, and hope that it can be resolved swiftly so that businesses can receive the relief that they’re entitled to.”

The Government had previously set a deadline of September this year to have new bills with business that had been affected. 

The full written statement from Marcus Jones MP is available here:


Confidence in small business in Wales falters but small businesses continue to drive Wales’ economy forwards.

A new report from FSB Wales shows that small business confidence has dropped from a three year high of +31 in Q2 to +22 in Q3, however, the Welsh Business Index shows that Wales is still significantly outperforming the rest of the UK, which saw the index fall from +15 last quarter to +1.1 in Q3.

The index shows that small business confidence is still higher than it was a year ago. The UK Small Business Index stands above the -2.9 level seen in Q3 2016, but has fallen over the past two quarters.

Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said:

“This new SBI report shows that small business confidence has wavered in Wales, although confidence in Wales is still higher than that in the rest of the UK.

“Despite faltering business confidence, 19.7% of business reported that they had increased their employee headcount in the third quarter of 2017. This serves as an important reminder that Wales is built on a small business economy, and that any plans from the Welsh Government to develop the national economy must be aimed at improving circumstances for small businesses.”

Over the third quarter a net balance of 52% of small businesses in Wales reported export growth – much higher than the 19.5% reported by small businesses across the UK. Growth is largely driven by strength in key export markets such as the EU. The EU accounts for over two thirds of Welsh exports, compared to just less than half of the UK’s exports. In the year to March 2017, the value of exports to the EU from Wales increased by 13%, whilst exports to countries outside the EU increased by 10%.

Janet Jones commented: “Small businesses in Wales are exporting more than ever before, and it is important that the UK and Welsh Governments are supporting this growing trend. We recently called for Welsh Government to develop a Trade and Investment Strategy and a key part of that would be supporting small businesses who seek to trade abroad.”


Meet the Experts and Make Valuable Connections at Our Events in October

Win 2 free tickets for Techsmart NFP on November 28th at County Hall valued at over £200


Our calendar of events offers a variety of formats to learn and are all designed to provide:

Real-life client case studies from your peers;

practical help, expertise and take-aways;

opportunity to make valuable connections;

technology experts sharing their insights and years of experience.

“Making CRM and web projects work in the NFP sector”

Afternoon event, including networking over wine and beer

Wednesday, October 11, 4:00-6:30pm

Location: The fantastic Montcalm at The Brewery, 52 Chiswell St, London EC1Y 4SA

View full programme and register

“Finding the right digital solution for educating, accrediting and regulatory bodies”

Intimate roundtable discussion over hot breakfast

Thursday, October 19, 8:30-10:30am

Location: Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London, Kings Cross WC1H 9SN

View full programme and register here

“How to choose the right partner and system while avoiding the pitfalls?”

Morning event over hot breakfast

Tuesday, October 24, 8:30–10:30am

Location: Hush Mayfair, Lancashire Court, 8 Brook St, London W1S 1EY

View full programme and register  

Click here to see our full calendar of events


And don’t forget, at each event, we will be giving away two free tickets worth over £200 for our TechSmart NFP event on November 28th at County Hall – the perfect place to research the marketplace and make new contacts.

Hart Square are independent consultants, with in-depth knowledge of the non-profit sector and the technology marketplace.

We hope you can join us,

Glenda Parker


At smartimpact we’ve recently been talking about member engagement and how focusing on improving engagement is the key to success for membership organisations. Talking about it is all well and good but how does this translate into practical action?

Here’s five tips on gaining an understanding and improving your membership engagement rates.


#1 Understand what engagement looks like to your organisation

Engagement will look slightly different for every professional body so the first step is to work out what it looks like to yours. What do you consider important ‘engagement moments’? These could include:

  • Email opens/click-throughs
  • Event attendance (online of face-to-face)
  • Involvement in committees & groups
  • Volunteering/mentoring
  • Recommending your organisation to others
  • Connecting on social media
  • Continuous membership renewal
  • Use of benefits


Brainstorm, ask colleagues and refer to your overall business objectives to define a full list of your member ‘engagement moments’.


#2 Define metrics and KPIs that reflect these ‘engagement moments’

Once you know what ‘engagement moments’ are important to your organisation, you need to be able to measure them effectively so you can see where you need to focus improvements. You need to define metrics and KPIs that reflect these moments.


Some example metrics include:

  • Member retention rates – by types of grade/level
  • Email ‘click to open’ (CTO) rates – this compares the percentage of opens an email gets with the click-throughs it gets. This tells you if your members are engaged with your email communications. Measure different types of email separately to understand which are most effective
  • Increase in active group members – do your committees and groups lack members or is there a high turnover? Measure and track this
  • Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) – this is a well-known way of measuring advocacy. You will have seen the question ‘Would you recommend us to colleagues?’ – that’s NPS in action. Ask this question in all your surveys. Find out more about NPS»
  • Social media activity increase – sharing/liking/commenting/Klout score
  • website metrics


With regard to KPIs, remember to take initial ‘base’ measurements; these will help you define KPIs that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based). For example, if your member retention rate at present is 40% you could set a KPI target of 75% within 2 years.


Regularly monitoring your defined set of KPIs will then allow you to see how well your activities and improvements are working (or not) and alter your actions accordingly.


#3 Understand what benefits are valued…and which aren’t

So, you’ve got your list of ‘engagement moments’ and monitor those through a defined set of KPIs. But that doesn’t address whether the member benefits you offer actually meet the needs of your members. What your members needed ten years’ ago may well have changed, but has your organisation kept up with this need for change?


Ask them. Through an annual survey, focus groups and regular satisfaction surveys throughout the year.


#4 Translate your findings into an improvement action plan

The most important thing about asking your members what they would like from your organisation is to then make the changes required! Adjust the benefits offered to meet needs and wants of today’s (and tomorrow’s) member, not yesterday’s.


Also, make sure you communicate your improvements and changes to the membership. In the way members want.



#5 Don’t confuse loyalty with engagement

It might sound silly but loyal members aren’t necessarily engaged members. They’re very valuable members to have but it’s important to note the difference. A loyal member might continue renewing their membership for years in return for the support shown to them by the organisation in previous years. That doesn’t mean they read your emails, attend your events or use the benefits available. But it would be good to understand what would make them engage still.


We hope these tips have given you some food for thought. If you’d like to know more about engagement and how to measure those ‘engagement moments’ read our new ebook or call us on 0845 544 2043.


The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned the new Government not to overlook the domestic agenda as it starts the negotiations over withdrawing from the EU. 

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Brexit is clearly the most urgent focus for the new Government but it will only be successful if the Government fully backs small businesses, the backbone of the economy, whose ambitions will need to be harnessed to make use of any new trade deals.

“UK negotiators must have their interests in mind, including easy access to the single market and the ability to hire workers with the skills they need.”

The organisation also warned the Government not to revisit plans to raise National Insurance on the self-employed. 

“Many self-employed strivers were frightened during the recent election by the threat of a tax grab on them in the form of higher National Insurance Contributions,” said Mr Cherry. “I call on the new minority Government to rule that out once and for, to reassure entrepreneurs seeking to help our economy grow that they will not have extra obstacles thrown in their way.”

He also called for reform of the outdated business rates system and the need to tackle the poor treatment of many small firms by big business customers: “We look forward to working constructively with the new Government on all of these issues.”



NCC Education is an awarding organisation and provider of British education, claiming to offer a complete education solution to a global network of fifty Accredited Partner Centres in more than 50 countries.

Originally a division of the National Computing Centre – first established as a government IT initiative in 1966 – it initially offered IT qualifications. Gradually expanding its higher education portfolio to include Business, English Language, and Foundation level qualifications. In 1997, they incorporated as an awarding organisation of British qualifications recognised by universities, professional bodies and employers worldwide.

ProTech, on the other hand, has been delivering specialist CRM software and change management services to the Not for Profit (NFP) sector for more than 20 years. Its Pro-9 CRM software operates in a Microsoft environment and delivers easily configurable specialist NFP modules with CRM, workflow, process automation and reporting capability at their core: Membership & Subscriptions, Learning & Education/Professional Qualifications, CPD, Event Management, Annual Appeal, Fundraising, Marketing & Campaigns and Sales Ledger.

NCC Education and ProTech have now teamed up, with the latter’s digital platform, ProWeb, and its specialist CRM software Pro9, providing a secure, integrated web and CRM solution hosted in ProTech’s ProCloud. In choosing the ProTech solution NCC Education hopes to significantly improve its levels of customer service, reduce its operating costs, and support its strategy of giving  its customers, employee users, and learners, a web based communications channel.

“Our current Awarding Body Management System, developed around ten years ago, is now constrained by physical and technological limitations,” said Emma Dawkins, Director of Qualifications and Academic Delivery for NCC Education.

“As our Awarding Body Management System is now out dated it does not integrate fully or in some areas at all, with other systems we deploy. This has resulted in our inability to take advantage of modern technology and its application in innovative teaching delivery and assessment activity which are at the core of an awarding organisation.” 

NCC Education will move away from its existing ‘on premise’ system to a cloud-based Awarding Body Management System, thereby removing the need to manage, support, and host infrastructure. This was one of the key criteria in the selection of ProTech and its integrated web and CRM solution hosted in ProCloud, a secure, always available, fully serviced Cloud infrastructure.

This digital platform should ensure that NCC Education’s system will be scalable, flexible and adaptable to meet its current and future business requirements, and provide integration with other major systems it uses. A new Centre Portal for NCC Education is envisaged, that will initially provide an online interface for its Accredited Partner Centres.   This will allow them to perform additional online activities including: registering students, and their specific qualification journeys; scheduling exams, conducting online exam assessments, and receive qualification results; and monitoring and tracking students’ progress. 

ProTech’s cloud-based solution will compliment NCC Education’s existing Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), ensuring that it offers learner-led and customised features in line with and exceeding those of other VLE’s currently on the market.

Business benefits to be delivered will include: user accounts fully integrated with NCC Education’s main student and Centre Portal database; automated workflow; and integrated document management across the organisation. Importantly, NCC Education’s financial processes and data will now be integrated with its accounting system. Integrated web and CRM is a key element of NCC Education’s overall business strategy. The objective being support of operational management and delivery of NCC Education’s core teaching and assessments business.

For more info visit:


Association News

TechSmart NFP 2017 – Definitely Not Your Ordinary Conference

28th November, County Hall

This is not another sector event where you’re packed into a hotel conference centre, and doing your best to avoid the exhibition area. It’s the opposite. At TechSmart NFP, the leading tech providers take centre stage and shape our entire programme.

This is only a one-day event, and it’s jam-packed. We understand that it’s tough enough finding time away from the office. Therefore, our Programme is punchy and to the point. We will give you meaningful, practical advice and insights from the industry experts – and your peers – with simple take-aways that you can put into practice straight away.  

Book now and save over 22% 

Headline Speakers

Simon Devonshire, OBE – serial entrepreneur! Simon is fascinated by the whole new era of technology we’re entering, which has the potential to “transform everything around us from being passively dumb to being predictively intelligent”.

Rachel Neaman, CEO of Corsham Institute, is a specialist in digital transformation and was voted 20th in Computer Weekly’s list of 50 Most Influential Women in IT 2016. Rachel won the Founder’s Award 2017 at the Digital Leaders event in June 2017.

Dominic Campbell – due to popular demand, he is back! Dominic is a digital government and social innovation entrepreneur. He founded FutureGov to prove the power of digital and design for government transformation, focusing on creating better cheaper public services.

Take a closer look at our Keynote Speakers 

Everything you need to get your digital transformation on track

Strand 1 – Catching up, then keeping up

If you want to know what a strategy for CRM and associated technologies looks like, and how to ensure that it delivers what you need today – but is also future-proofed – this is the strand for you.

Strand 2 – Emerging tech

If you’re looking ahead to what is coming down the track technology-wise, and how to prepare your organisations for the future, this is the strand to attend.

Strand 3 – Drowning in data

If you want to learn how to harness data to help drive engagement with members, supporters and stakeholders, this is your best bet.

Different ways for you to learn – it’s punchy and to the point

TED-style Talks: our Sponsors are passionate about what they do and are leading tech experts. They will educate and entertain you with all the insights about their topics – in just 20 minutes!

Lightning Talks: Want to hear from some of the best technology providers without having to do all the small talk and sit through a full presentation? These tech experts will be on the clock, they will get exactly 5 minutes to tell you why they are different.

Client case studies and roundtable discussions: due to popular demand, there are even more opportunities to get involved, contribute and share with your peers. They are people just like you who have been through a similar experience.

Take a peek at our Programme

Work doesn’t need to feel like work

No need to wear a suit – it’s a relaxed informal set up, with a venue to match. And great content!

Plus: Coffee, cakes and snacks throughout the day; Soft sofa seating – chat with your colleagues or experts away from the crowds; Photographer to take professional headshots; and, Cocktails from 5:00pm!


Association News

TechSmart NFP2017 is a fast-paced day filled with opportunities to meet a wide range of industry experts, digital leaders, solution providers and thought leaders. A lot of thought has gone into the programme, which has been designed specifically for non-profit organisations.


You’ll hear directly from the experts about data and technologies for today and the future, including, but not restricted to:

How to assess the “health” of your organisation; how best to leverage your data; getting your organisation fit for today; and innovative and emerging tech specific to the sector. Also, ‘Measuring Member Engagement’ – what works and what doesn’t; what’s trending in the digital world; and email marketing and social media – how to harness both for success…


Three Main Streams 

In Catching up Then Keeping Up’ sector strategists explain how to plan your technology strategy and ensure it covers all the key areas of your organisation – for now and the future. If you want to know what a strategy for CRM and associated technologies looks like, and how to ensure that it delivers what you need today – but is also future-proofed – this is the strand to attend.


In the ‘Emerging Tech’ stream, industry tech leaders highlight the key future technologies and innovations that non-profit organisations need to be aware of. If you want to know what is coming down the track technology-wise, and how to prepare your organisations for the future, this is the strand to attend.


Finally, ‘Drowning in Data’, lets sector leaders address a common dilemma that many non-profit organisations face – how to harness data to help drive engagement with members, supporters and stakeholders. So, if you want help to understand the value of the data you hold and maximising it for business benefit, this is the strand to attend.

Informed Decision-Making


In addition to the three strands, our programme includes a number of other session formats and exciting activities that you can participate in, including: Supplier ‘Lightning Talks’, in-depth roundtable discussions, and ‘Ask the Experts’ sessions.


Keynotes sessions will include thought leadership, innovation, and the Digital Age. Fundamental to the programme will be the keynote sessions. These sessions will transform complex information into accessible and entertaining insights and provide a ‘crystal ball’ vision that will prepare our NFP audience for what is coming next technology-wise. We have invited real-world sector experts to talk about tech trends and to leverage their knowledge and expertise to provide in-depth insights into the future of technology and entrepreneurship.


We are delighted to announce that Simon Devonshire OBE, entrepreneur, investor, and Non-Executive Director, will be our opening keynote of the day. Rachel Neaman, CEO, Corsham Institute, will be bringing us together again at her keynote after lunch. Dominic Campbell, Founder and MD FutureGov, is back by popular demand.